Have You Ever Considered How Precious Metal Alloys Can Be Used Inside the Human Body?

Saying someone has a heart of gold is usually meant figuratively, but you might be surprised to learn that precious metals are actually used inside the human body for more than just making gold fillings for teeth.

Precious metals include gold, silver, and the platinum group metals – platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium, and osmium – and are highly valuable due to their superior resistance to corrosion and oxidation. We get many requests to work with these metals from the electronics, automotive, aerospace, ceramics and chemical industries. Rarely are we asked to assist in making these alloys for medical applications.

I’ve learned that there’s always a first for everything, and I enjoy the challenge that comes with helping clients develop new alloys.

One client came to us wondering how much of a specific precious metal could be added to an alloy used to make stents. Why would they want to do this? As stents have become thinner, they have also become harder to see on an X-ray. By adding precious metals to the material used to make the stent, it increases its opaqueness so it can be better seen on an X-ray.

We often run a number of trial heats for our clients to determine the optimal alloy composition for an application. In this case we melted five heats, adjusting various elements including platinum that was supplied by our client.    Our goal was to use as little platinum as possible, given the price of this metal, while keeping our goals for the alloy in mind:  increasing stent opacity without sacrificing functionality.

The result of the series of trials was a customer satisfied with an alloy that would be both effective for their application as well as cost-effective to produce.

Precision is always important with the alloys we make, but you can be sure that we will account for every gram of customer material, especially when you are entrusting us with your precious metals.

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